Jun 15, 2022 by Matt Dixon
Having a business with a predominantly remote team is the reality of many companies' business processes after the pandemic. Throughout the years, I learned that building and leading a team is no small feat. It takes time, dedication and experimentation to deliver the needed, and expected results. With my experience in having a software consulting business and hiring my team to best serve my business expectations, I have failed and succeeded. But with being a leader and having to lead a team to drive not only my success but theirs, you have to learn techniques to promote the environment needed to have a successful and effective remote team. In my 20 years of experience in the tech industry, I have learned pivotal lessons in remotely leading teams. These next six points are what, in my opinion, are most important to have the best remote team for your business.
1. Learning is Constant
So when you think about learning often you think that after you know key facts or details, you’re done with learning that particular thing. This should not be your logic. You can constantly be learning and elevating your same skillsets. For instance, in college, you start with a Bachelor’s Degree, and if you decide to further your schooling, you can work your way to getting a Master’s Degree. You learn more to be able to do more. To expand your horizons further than normal competency and be a true master in what you are studying, you have to be willing to grow your current skill set to reach the level of mastery you want to accomplish. The mystery and appeal of constant learning is the ability to always be in an elevated growth process. Keeping yourself competitive, especially in the tech industry, is crucial to your work process and career growth.
2. Micromanaging Doesn’t Work
To all the micromanagers that sadly make up a lot of leadership in the tech industry, this tactic does not work. If anything it makes the work environment less enjoyable- Not that work should necessarily be fun but your work environment, especially a remote one, dictates how your team performs. If you have certain expectations, express them at the beginning of the project and be available for support throughout it. Leadership is essentially a support system to the team to help keep business afloat and keep the work environment engaged. Being over-involved in everything just adds more stress and produces a lower quality of work from staff. You are supposed to help the flow of your team’s work process, not disturb it. You hired a team of skilled professionals for a reason, so treat them that way. Collaboration is important but not necessary all the time. Allow your team to be independent and show you the abilities you hired them for. Working with my remote team, I’ve learned to be open-minded and adaptable. How I lead at the beginning of my career is different from how I lead now. You have to see change as an opportunity to grow and be better. If you are so strict on rules and expectations, you might miss something that can lead you to a greater sense and opportunity of competitive edge.
3. Communication Is Crucial
This feels so obvious to state, but sometimes it isn’t obvious for leadership in the tech industry. Open communication is the driving factor of success. You have to be willing to communicate to accomplish your goals. Your team needs to know what you expect of them so that an alignment between the company and team members can happen. They can’t meet company goals or align themselves with the company’s values if they aren’t communicated with. If leadership is lacking communication with their team, how will anything get done successfully? And if you do meet success in your disfunction, how do you sustain it if your work environment doesn’t communicate properly? It’s the leadership’s responsibility to be transparent and open. You have to make relationships with your team members, learn their work process styles, establish healthy work boundaries and be willing to communicate openly when working in a remote environment. Without this, the team will fail.
4. Trust Your Team
I trust my team because I hired trustworthy people. I always say you have to take time during the hiring process. Don’t think “I need to fill this position.” Think, “Who will be the best fit for this role and my current team.” The urgency to get a position filled can sometimes result in the hired candidate not being the right fit. But what is the right fit? It’s more than experience and it’s more than certain certifications or education. The right fit will be different for everyone and depends on what your company needs. But the right fit for my remote team is someone adaptable, isn’t afraid of change, can work independently, and effectively understands my business goals and aligns those goals with theirs.
Trusting my team is easy because I set it up that way. I know I can trust in my team’s ability to get the work done to the quality that it needs to be but more than that I believe in them and their eagerness to learn more, be better and help accomplish shared goals. That’s the key. You have to believe in your team to help you produce the success you crave- Your hiring process ensures this. Take your time so that you can make the best decision for your remote team. It’s hard to let go of control, but when being a leader sometimes you have to.
The most successful leaders knew how to follow just as much as they knew how to lead. Know that your team is accountable for their responsibilities and that they know what they need to do, when they need to finish it, and how you expect it to be done. The best quality of work is produced this way. When you showcase trust in your team, they will rise to the occasion. They will show you the quality of work you expect and improve their skills and work processes along the way. Trust allows a certain amount of needed security and ableness in teams, that really can help enhance your competitive edge and elevate team capabilities overall.
5. Provide The Proper Resources
How will your team be able to complete tasks or projects if they don’t have the proper tools and resources to complete them? This is one of the most basic lessons to learn when leading a remote team. Without the right resources: apps, equipment, software, etc., your team won’t complete a task. I always say the more expectations you have, the more you need to ensure your team has the tools to meet or exceed those expectations. Sometimes the basic resources you’re providing aren’t enough. You have to be willing to give the needed amenities and be open to understanding why new resources might be more effective. Whether you think something is necessary or not, it’s always important to assess what your team says is needed or could be a great addition to help complete projects or tasks.
6. To Stay Agile
Staying agile is how I keep my and my team's work process flowing. In the tech industry, things are constantly changing. Code fails, ideas shift into something else and minds merge to initiate the future of tomorrow. The fascination of the tech industry is the ability to grow but also the ability to be creative and produce your creativity in your needed or particular way. What I mean by staying agile is keeping yourself responsive and adaptable. When in this industry you have to understand the nature of its work. The quick changes and fast-paced work environments make up what we do.
How I stay agile is by accomplishing small focused goals. It’s easy to get lost in the expectations of a major project. Keeping yourself organized and accountable changes how I get things done. I make myself write out clear milestones that help me accomplish the bigger task at hand. I try not to multitask- even though it can be done, it makes me less focused. I am in constant communication with my team members but that looks different for each one. Some of my team members I have to talk to more than others just based on what we are doing at the time. Sometimes communication and collaboration are imperative to the project but sometimes it’s not, so I try to remember to keep my team engaged by allowing them the opportunity to get work done to their working standard. I always acknowledge my team's wins, big or small and I try to empower and motivate them to the best of my ability. Sometimes a simple “You’re doing great!” email can help your team be that much more confident and performative.
Surprises in business happen constantly, especially with a remote team, so be adaptable. Allow your team to give you feedback: Constructive criticism can help you be a better leader and help you better understand your team and your mistakes. Always expect constant change and utilize experimentation when needed. Try to be more flexible and open-minded with your team and I promise the results will speak for themselves.
To lead your remote team into the success you want, you have to be willing to expand your way of thinking about business. A great team will teach leaders how to be better. They will challenge their leaders' perception of correctness and change what you think success is or looks like. An effective team will help take a business’ competitive edge to the next level by providing a new sense of creativity, new ideas, and a fresh approach to getting work done. Be the leader your remote team needs to be effective and successful by staying accountable for your actions, trusting your team’s abilities, openly communicating, staying agile, providing the proper resources, promoting constant learning, and not micromanaging your team of educated professionals.
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